BJP plans countrywide protest against fuel price hike


New Delhi : The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will organise country-wide protests against the hike in petrol and diesel prices announced by the union government Thursday.

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BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar told reporters here, “The hike of Rs.2 per litre in petrol prices and Re.1 per litre in diesel is an anti-people step. The BJP opposes it and our president Rajnath Singh has announced organization of country-wide protests.”

Javadekar said the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has increased petroleum prices eight times in the last four years that it has been in power.

“In May 2004, when UPA came to power the petrol prices were Rs.30.25 per litre and diesel Rs.20.29. The petrol is now Rs.45.52 per litre while diesel is Rs.31.45 per litre. This is more than 50 percent hike,” he said.

“The government made a profit of Rs.700 billion ($18 billion) in 2004 from petroleum products. This has gone up to Rs.1,400 billion ($32 billion) this year. But the benefit has not been passed on to the poor. Prices have gone up and so has the cost of travelling,” Javadekar added.

“The government has given rising international crude prices as the reason. But the prices have come down from $100 a barrel to $90. In terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), Indians pay the highest petrol prices,” he said.

Petroleum prices have always been a sensitive issue for the government. The UPA government had also deferred the decision – of passing on the burden to the consumer – for the past few months. Some sections of the ruling Congress party were opposed to the price rise and told Finance Minister P. Chidambaram about this in a meeting a fortnight ago.

The BJP is likely to make petroleum price hike an election issue. The party has declared development, good governance and security as the three issues on which it will contest the polls.